Amy Hempel - The Dog of the Marriage (4 stars)

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The Dog of the Marriage

(Quercus)

SHORT STORIES

Often it’s the throwaway remarks that are the most revealing, and no writer exemplifies this more than celebrated writer Amy Hempel. The award-winning New Yorker brings her four volumes of work together here for the first time to a British audience, and each one makes for truly remarkable reading as smart and, at times, somewhat troubled narrators tell tales about everyday happenings, from first date experiences to failing relationships and scoffing fruit desserts.

Uneasy pictures of modern American society are evoked by a punchy and beautifully rhythmic style, and it’s precisely the way these stories are constructed that make The Dog of the Marriage so compelling. Hard-hitting opening lines draw you in, with certain phrases etching their way into your memory, and Hempel’s minimalist approach, dark comedy and skill with one-liners gives a real sense of her characters’ lives without ever over-burdening the reader with endless detail. This is clever, contemporary short story writing at its most striking.

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